Discussion On Whether Religion Has A Place In A Modern Scientific Society

1956 words - 8 pages

Religion has played a major role in society for centuries. It has helped to shape a number of values, social norms and modes of communication, and it has even influenced the structure of language. Having a day off during the week can be attributed to the influence of Christianity for The Bible lists keeping The Sabbath as a day of rest; as one of the Ten Commandments. The origin of religion can generally be traced to the ancient Near East and classified in three basic categories: polytheistic, pantheistic and monotheistic. Monotheism is the belief in one God and is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim line of religions, which began in about 2000 BC. For many the history of time is recorded in relation to the birth of Christ.Although there are many interpretations of what defines a religion, the Oxford Dictionary (1999) describes it as: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods, or a particular system of faith and worship, and a pursuit or interest followed with devotion. Religion also shaped the way in which British and colonial legal thinking developed, and John Adams, the second President of The United States, stated: "It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue."Whether religion still has a place in modern society depends on the extent to which society has developed and in which direction it has developed. Renowned sociologist Emile Durkheim developed a functional perspective and defined religion according to the functions it performs for society and the individual. Durkheim came to the conclusion that religion gave answers to the unanswerable and "binds society together", after studying a group of Australian Aborigines who were involved in totemic religion. Totemism is when a particular society believes that a natural object or animal has spiritual significance. There is disagreement about whether religion is a unifying force in society bringing people closer together, or a mechanism of social control that supports the interests of the rich and privileged over and against other groups in society. Karl Marx described religion as the "opiate of the masses," and a "symptom of social malformation which disguises the exploitative nature of capitalist society."When Durkheim and Marx began writing, Britain was going through a period of rapid industrialisation and Durkheim was concerned whether traditional forms of religion would break down as society began to mutate. He believed that "religious aspects of society should be allowed to evolve alongside everything else" and "Religion as such will always be present for it performs a necessary function." Marx on the other hand, claimed that "Religion would disappear of it's own accord."In the eighteenth century, Christianity was an integral part of society in Britain, but as scientific discoveries were being made in the...

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